Book Review: George R.R. Martin's "A Storm of Swords"
- by V.L. Locey, 5 June 2012
You know, I wouldn't have believed it if someone had said to me, ‘Vicki, there's this series of books that just keeps getting better and better and better!’ Nope. I would have snickered behind my hand and walked off sniggering at that silly person. I mean, let's face it, most series of novels have low and high points, and the middle book or books seems to be where the story slips sometimes. It's to be expected. You have the awesome beginning and the dramatic conclusion. It's the middle that sometimes leaves the reader with a vague ‘Ho-Hum’ feeling.
There are a few exceptions of course. The Harry Potter series and the Percy Jackson books kept a nice level throughout in my humble. The ten books in the Black Dagger Brotherhood series have been pretty steady, with just a small slip in Phury and Payne`s tales, but that's only my opinion. Hopefully my second book doesn't get into that middle novel quagmire. And then there are the ‘A Song of Fire and Ice’ novels by the immensely talented George R.R. Martin. This time around we`ll be discussing ‘A Storm of Swords.’
So where do I begin? With a short synopsis sounds good. There will be a few spoilers folks. I'll try not to ruin every moment of the book but some things will come out, just so you're forewarned.
In this third volume we begin with that rotten, spoiled, little snot Joffrey still sitting in the Iron Throne. Oops, did I let a small bit of emotion out there? Sorry, but these books and the characters within are so damned compelling, I can't hold back at times. Where was I? Oh yes, the snot on the throne of the Seven Kingdoms. King Snot is now feeling pretty secure. Lord Stannis and his sorceress were defeated. Young Robb Stark has lost Winterfell and now leads his north men from the Riverrun fortress. Jon Snow is facing a mass of wildlings and Others at The Wall and across the sea, Daenerys has yet to become a problem, "yet" being the key word. And let us not forget my favorite character even though he is a Lannister, Tyrion. Tyrion has awoken to find he is no longer in the position he once held and missing a goodly portion of his nose.
So all seems to be fine and dandy for the Lannister`s in King's Landing, more or less. But looks can be deceiving. And if any series of books deals with deception, incest, back-stabbing, whoring, fighting, murder and magic, it`s these books! I won't go into too much of what transpires so not to ruin it, but, I will say that I had to lower the novel from my nose many times, blink, and say ‘Did that just happen?!’ and go back to read the passage again to make sure. Yep. It did happen. Over and over and over. It was fantastic!
Just when you think you know how things are moving, Mr. Martin tugs the rug out from under your feet, drops you on your rump and leaves you sitting there looking like a stunned toad. There are so many jaw-dropping moments I can't list them all. From the fateful wedding at the Twins (I had to put the book down and walk away to compose myself) to the weddings in King's Landings, to the battles won by the queen of the dragons and the losses she continues to endure, to Jon Snow's mission among the wildlings and the breaking of his vows, I was kept reeling from one chapter to another. I loved it, each and every shocking development.
What really stood out to me, aside from the usual grandeur, texture, action and grit of this series, was the character development Mr. Martin gave to so many of the people of his world. I went into this book despising Jaime Lannister. At the end, I found myself beginning to empathize and perhaps even like the cocky, arrogant son-of-a-gun. We see Daenerys beginning to grow in her role of khaleesi while knocking down old, corrupt regimes and winning the adoration of the people. And, she has three freaking dragons! She's doing the stuff we all wish we were doing and learning that being a woman and a leader is not easy.
Speaking of ladies, let's touch upon Sansa Stark, the exact opposite of Daenerys. I'll admit that I came into this book disliking her quite a bit. I've moved up from dislike to just feeling pity for her. She refuses to give up her fantasies about how life should be for her. She seems to be this hapless pinball that gets bounced around from one bad guy to another yet never shakes her victim personality. When she is given the chance to get help, she spurns the offer and makes one foolish decision after another, based on her pampered and sheltered upbringing and the dreams of that brave knight that will make everything right. I always seem to end up shaking my head over Sansa.
Jon Snow. Now here is where we see the most growth aside from Jaime! He is still our coming-of-age hero but Mr. Martin throws some real curveballs at the young bastard. Jon's story goes in some wonderfully interesting directions and he gets some substantial depth in this third book. I also really enjoyed how the author took the story of the Wildlings. He changed them from this ‘Great Evil’ and through superb story-telling and humanization has me now feeling sympathy for them.
I found Davos' parts interesting but not nearly as compelling as others. Melisandre, who shows up in most of Davos' segments steals the show from him. She is clearly the baddie and she is a good one! At least, I THINK she's going to be the villain. Hard to say what will happen if the fourth book keeps up this pace of reveals and twists!
Of course, I must touch upon Tyrion. As ever, his character is one of the three that capture and hold my attention, with Jon and Daenerys following behind him. His sarcasm and cynical intelligence make his sections a sheer joy to read. I loved his interaction with the Dornishmen and how he tries his damned best to make his new marriage work. (Yup, you read right, the tart-lover marries again, but to find out who you're going to have to read the book.) May the Seven bless him for showing his bride compassion and tenderness when she learns of the losses her family has suffered. Tyrion has a caring heart under all his acidity and off-the-cuff witticism.
To wrap this review up, ‘A Storm of Swords’ is a sweeping epic of a novel that does not drop the ball, or get stuck in the molasses of the middle book swamp. Please, do yourself a favor, if you haven't already. Get in your car, drive to your indie bookstore and pick up the series. I promise you will not regret the time spent getting lost in the lands of Westeros.
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V.L. Locey is the author of ‘Of Gods & Goats’, the first in a trilogy of rural romantic comedies with a heavy Greek mythos flavor. When not writing, V.L. is reading, playing X-Box, sipping coffee, tending goats, “researching sexy Greek gods” or has her nose buried in a Marvel comic book. She is also the writer for the web strip, ‘Don't Ever Tell Alex’ and has several online stories, ranging from Marvel-based fan fiction the original character tale ‘Sons of War’ and a new original work entitled ‘Bloodlines’ set to debut in July.
To purchase a copy of her book, you can go to her website, or grab a copy for your eReader at SmashWords.
To read along with her MU based work, check out Mickey's Tavern.
If you're hankering for original character work, you can find V.L. Locey's stories at Essential Webcomics.
If you're a fan of web strips, check out her work, along with Mr. Paul Rose's 3-D art right here, on the "Don't Ever Tell Alex" blog.
She can also be found on Twitter, Facebook, GoodReads or any local book shop.